Do You Have Everything in Order For When You Go?

No one likes to think about what will happen when they go. What will happen to their house and possessions? Or what will happen to their family and loved ones? It’s these thoughts we tend to avoid during our lives, and it’s only when we believe our time has come, that we decide to address in them in the form of a will. Yes, that’s right, the dreaded Will, a handwritten parchment (or can be electronic now) containing information and consent from the deceased on how their possessions shall be distributed when they go. The problem for many New Zealanders is that they only begin writing their Will when they feel their time is coming. This creates a problem as the added stress of their health and fear of the unknown, can impede their thought and judgment, meaning you may be unclear or state the wrong thing in your Will. In fact, only half of New Zealand adults have a will, and only 20% of those under forty have one. Writing a will is an important task that all kiwis should consider. So this is why we have composed a quick informational piece to explain its importance.

 

What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?

If you are unfortunate enough to pass away unexpectedly or were able to create a will, your assets and possessions (estate) will be divided up under the 1969 Administration Act. The Administration Act states the different scenarios in which your possessions will be divided:

If there’s a Spouse/partner but no parents, children or decedents.

  • Then they will receive the whole estate.

If there’s a Spouse/partner and children or decedents

  • Then the Spouse receives the personal chattels (belongings) plus $155,000 and one-third of anything that is left.
  • The children or decedents receive the remaining two thirds.

If there’s a Spouse/partner and parents but no children or decedents.

  • The Spouse/partner receives the personal belonging plus $155,000 and two-thirds of anything that is left.
  • The parents receive the remaining third.

If there’s no Spouse/partner or parents, but they have children or decedents.

  • The children receive the whole estate.

If there’s no Spouse/partner, parents or children but still have decedents.

  • The siblings then have the estate divided between them.

If there is none of the above.

  • The estate goes to the crown and any dependent may apply to the New Zealand Treasury to have some of the estate paid out to them.

 

How to Get a Will Written

Many people believe that simply writing your wishes on a piece of paper and hiding it in your top drawer to be found when you pass away, can work as a valid will. Although they are not entirely wrong, this form of will can easily be challenged as there is a chance of such a will be fake or to have been edited by the person who found it. To have a will be legally valid, you will need a few things:

  • Need it in writing (so printed on a piece of paper of handwritten)
  • Needs to be witnessed by two non-beneficiaries
  • Needs to be signed by you and also a witness while both in each other’s presence

This process can be done with family members, trusted friends or even legal professionals such as a lawyer or Justice of the Peace (JP). Doing it this way can help make your Will more valid and less likely to be challenged, but it does come at a small fee. Doing it with legal professionals can add up to around $1,000 as you are required to pay the fees as well as their time per the hour. But luckily a portion of this fee will come out of the estate after you are passed away and they have performed the actual action of addressing the Will. If you wish as an alternative, you can instead apply for a cheaper Will online. These Wills are much easier and quicker to do while only costing a fraction of getting it done legally and you can have ‘piece of mind’ while also keeping your wallet safe.

 

What Should my Will Cover

Here is a quick list of the items/topics you should address in your Will, but you can feel free to add more, dependent on your situation:

Names of the people who are to receive any possession as well as what that possession is.

The names of the people who you appoint as guardian of your children (if you have any) and how you wish your assets and savings to be distributed amongst your family members and loved ones.

Your funeral wishes (i.e. if you wish to be buried/cremated, songs, locations and any specific wishes you want to be done while they send you off).

  • However, you might want to pass this information on first to your family as they might not see the Will until after your funeral.

The person you appoint as executor of your Will (the person who manages the distribution of your estate).

  • Can be a family member or friend, or even a professional who provides Wills and estate services.

It should state that it revokes any other Wills (if this is not the first one that has been made).

So that is a fundamental breakdown on Wills. We covered what happens if you don’t have one, how to go about getting one and what you should consider covering. It’s vital that we address these when we can rather than when we have to. As it’s easier to update your Will when a life event occurs than to stress and rush one when you thinks things aren’t looking good. The purpose of a Will is to make sure your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones can still benefit from the life you lived. We advise you think seriously and get one done while you are in good health as you never know what may happen. It’s better to be able to pass away peacefully knowing that everything is in place for when you go. Rather than have chaos irrupt as your family may end up in fights or arguments over your wishes. So do it for yourself and do it for your family. Consider what’s best for everyone involved and consider writing/arranging your Will when you can.